At my home university back in The States, I’m a proud member of the music school’s premiere choral ensemble, which is directed by a man who flirts the line between artistic genius and going off the deep end most days. He’s fierce, intelligent, and a big ol’ character, and I was very excited to host him and a fellow music student in Paris this week! The good Doctor is internationally premiering a new piece, and it worked out that we were able to meet up and travel together a bit before I return to the US.
The three of us spent our first afternoon in Paris on Wednesday strolling down the Jardin des Tuileries and the Champs Elysées, where every young Parisian was out to profiter from the warm, sunny weather. We saw the view from l’Arc du Triomphe before turning back to go all the way to the Notre Dame cathedral and see a good portion of the evening mass. I’ve been to the church several times now, and it always seems to hold the same hushed, cloistered calmness within its walls, even though there may be hundreds of people wandering around it at any time. I love it.
We had a great dinner at a locals’ restaurant in the Quartier Latin (duck that fell off the bone with roasted potatoes and a chocolate torte), and then headed back to the hotel for a bottle of wine and chatting before crashing. The guys were still rather jet-lagged and I was just worn out, but we were only starting our grand weekend!
The next morning, we saw two of my favorite places in Paris: Sacre Coeur and the Musée d’Orsay. Even though it was hot and crowded, the cathedral at Montmartre’s peak still gave a beautiful view of the city below. It’s touristy, but I find Sacre Coeur’s openness and use of light to be an interesting foil to the occasional sense of claustrophobia one can get at the Gothic Notre Dame. The Musée d’Orsay is the same; it’s a little less famous than the Louvre, so there aren’t usually a ton of people there, but it holds its own in terms of the art collection and organization. It’s a great place to get an in-depth look at one large genre of art rather than a rushed sampler of things at a larger museum. Both places are not to be missed on a trip to Paris.
After our afternoon at the museum, we returned to the hotel to prepare for our big night out at the opera! We received free tickets to The Barber of Seville from our home university, and we were terribly excited to see such a renowned work at one of the world’s most famous opera houses. The set was fantastic; some of the music lacked originality but it was still well done and exciting to see! We had a great time, even though it all felt a little bit surreal that we were actually there. It was a whirlwind few days!
If you’re planning a short trip to Paris in the future, plan on being completely exhausted for all the running around you’ll have to do to see the bare minimum of sites. Sorry, that’s just how it is. Take the most comfortable shoes you own, and be prepared to spend a little more money than your normally would on food and unexpected purchases (like bandaids for your blisters and emergency metro tickets for when you simply can’t walk anymore!). However, remember that it’s all worth it in the end. Even though we were only there for two days and I was running around like a madwoman trying to show all of the city to my two guests, I was reminded of how magical one city can be. There’s something for everyone in Paris.